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Northbound spending fever in HK has “few” impacts on Macau GGR: experts

Hong Kong has been Macau’s second-largest tourist market, and its players make a relevant contribution to its gross gaming revenue (GGR). An expert told AGB that an increasing trend of spending in mainland China by visitors from Hong Kong would likely have “few” impacts on Macau’s gaming revenue.

Nelson Kot, Increasing spending in HK has "few" impacts on Macau GGR
Nelson Kot, the president of the Macau Comprehensive Social Research Association

Speaking to AGB, Nelson Kot, the president of the Macau Comprehensive Social Research Association, stated that the reshaping consumer market in Hong Kong may influence the choice of Hong Kong visitors, but he doesn’t think this will have much impact on Macau’s gaming revenue thus far.

“Macau’s attractiveness varies depending on the type of tourists. Compared to mainland China, Macau might not be very appealing to family visitors. However, the GGR should not be affected because players from Hong Kong are typically either single or in couples,” he said.

The Immigration Department of the Hong Kong government expects to record around 5.9 million border crossings during the upcoming Labor Day holiday, while 5.05 million visitors may cross the border between Hong Kong and neighboring Shenzhen.

Starting from last year, Hong Kong began recording a northbound spending fever. Until the recent holidays, the Immigration Department reported outbound visitors surpassing inbound visitors for the first time, attributed mostly to the northbound trips (those to Shenzhen or further abroad in China).

It’s worthy of note that Hong Kong has less than 8 million inhabitants while China’s population tops 1.4 billion. 

Nelson Kot

In this context, widespread attractions in mainland China for Hong Kong travelers may become new competitors to Macau in terms of short-haul travel destinations. That is, those who aren’t interested in the gaming floor.

Macau, Casino Gaming Tables

Fine in the near-term

Kot notes that since Macau’s hotel occupancy rate during the upcoming Labor Day Holiday is expected to reach 90 percent, he believes that Macau hotels will be fine in the near-term, as Macau has its own characteristics to be attractive for certain clientele.

In comparison with Labor Day last year, Kot considers that performance will be “better”, since last year Macau was still in an early stage of recovery.

“If the Chinese government maintains the current visa policy, Macau’s tourism will continue to recover,” notes the research expert.

Macau_Visitor-Arrivals-March-2024

The Macau government’s current estimates for this year’s GGR will be about MOP216 billion ($26.8 billion). Kot notes that Macau is “very comfortable to achieve this target and more.”

An analyst from CLSA, Jeffrey Kiang, has a similar observation. Speaking to AGB, he notes that visitation to Macau from Hong Kong has held up pretty well since March 2023.

Hong Kong Arrivals 2024

According to previous investment memos issued in October last year and January this year, the analyst noted that visitation from Hong Kong to Macau has exceeded pre-COVID levels, and the situation remains unchanged with other countries and regions’ visitation to Macau seen an ongoing improvement.

Macau received a total of 8.875 million visitors in the first quarter of the year, with 1.82 million visitors coming from Hong Kong. Hong Kong visitors account for nearly 21 percent of Macau’s visitor arrivals.

Analysts project Macau’s GGR to reach $2.3B in April

Positive outlook over Labor Day holiday 

Andy Wu, president of the Macau Tourism Industry Association, told AGB that the industry anticipates a “much better” Labor Day holiday this year, citing that Macau recorded a manpower shortage last year in the early stage of recovery. At that time, nearly 10 percent of hotel inventory had to be shut down.

Wu notes that over 46,000 hotel rooms in Macau are fully available for this upcoming holiday, with over an occupancy rate of over 90 percent expected.

He reveals that currently 80-90 percent of hotels located in Cotai Strip are booked, and 70-80 percent of hotels located in Macau peninsula are sold out. Five-star hotel rooms cost MOP3,000 ($373) to MOP4,000 ($497), while four-star to three-star accommodations may cost MOP1,500 ($186) per night.

The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) projects that Macau may receive an average of 130,000 inbound tourists per day during the Labor Day break. The projection surpasses the numbers seen during the Cheng Ming and Easter holidays. Wu indicates that the projection is not low, despite being below daily visitation during Chinese New Year.

He explains that this year’s Labor Day holiday in mainland China spans five days, from May 1st (Wednesday) to May 5th (Sunday), making it a longer holiday period. Hong Kong only has one public holiday day, as well as Macau. In this case, visitor arrivals may reach the highest levels for the holiday on May 1st. Close to the end of the holiday, Macau may record fewer visitors daily.

Viviana Chan
Viviana Chanhttps://agbrief.com/
Viviana Chan is an editor, interpreter, and journalist. With over a decade of experience, she writes in English, Chinese, and Portuguese. Viviana started her career in Macau-based newspapers, where she became passionate about the region's social, financial, and cultural development. Her writing focuses on the economy, emerging industries, gaming development, political affairs, and cross cultural-exchange in the business and cultural domains. She is avid for news and eager to discover and cover stories that generate public relevance.

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